Playing a terrorist in The Family Man has brought you a lot of ‘fang’ mail. How bad is it?
The response is really positive for Sajid. It's been all praises so far. Not at all bad. I have received very few fan mails which are actually exceptions. The number of hate messages is really low in comparison to the love I have received from everyone.
Why do you think some hated you after seeing your performance as Sajid?
That has happened because those people must have failed to differentiate between the actor and the character. Sometimes the line gets blurred for some people and I take that also as a positive feedback to my work. It means that it appeared so real to them that they forgot that I was acting and it was just a fictional performance by an actor.
On the other hand the role has also got you considerable praise. How has FM changed your life?
The appreciation for the role is humongous after Season 2. My inbox is flooded with lovely messages, sketches, video edits and memes. I'm very very grateful for all the love that I'm receiving for Sajid. I genuinely didn't think that people will love me so much. I was scared of people hating me but all the hatred has been for the character and not for me. One message that I have been constantly getting is that "I HATE SAJID BUT I LOVE SHAHAB". For me, this is the biggest compliment. So many fans have been saying that now they can't imagine a Season 3 without Sajid. People have been appreciating my craft and I feel blessed.
Has The Family Man changed your life?
Overall, Life has changed in a good way. People have started recognizing me. Lot of people now know me as Sajid. I am receiving calls from personalities whom I have admired all my life for their contribution in art and cinema. This brings lot of responsibility for me as an artist. Praise is nice. But for an actor like me, who has been struggling for years what’s important is getting good work in future, so that I can refine my craft more and establish myself as an actor. I just hope that all this translates into more work. That's the most important thing right now.
How did the role in The Family Man 2 come your way? And how did you see Sajid, as a terrorist or a game changer?
I got the role through an audition at Mukesh Chhabra casting company. After graduating from National School of Drama, Delhi, I used to play the role of Salim in Broadway Style Musical Show "Mughal-e-Azam" and was in my hometown Delhi only. I was asked to send in a self -test. Then an audition at their office which was followed by a meeting with directors and I got the part. It was a process of several weeks and I wasn't sure if I was going to get it for sure. I'm very grateful to Mukesh Chhabra and director duo Raj and DK for giving me this wonderful opportunity. I would like to share one interesting story related to my casting.
DK Sir once asked me to say some lines in Kashmiri during season 1 shoot and I told him that I'm not Kashmiri. He was in shock. He always thought that I was a Kashmiri. He said that he had cast me by mistake then. Later in season 2, he mentioned that he cast me by mistake but it was a good mistake since the performance was good. It’s a fact that Sajid is a killer and he is vengeful but what I liked about the part is his journey in the story. The arc of the performance is broad. From his personal story to his romantic scenes with Raji, there are multiple layers to his character. Audience gets to know his story and his suffering too. Sajid is a villain because he is vengeful and evil.
Did you see Sajid as a villain?
I looked at Sajid as a negative character since he chooses the path of violence but there is more to his character in the show. He falls in love with Raji which shows his human side as well.
Tell me about where you come from and where you are going?
I come from a very humble background. I have had a tough journey. I have hustled a lot in life. Things were not easy in childhood. But I somehow managed to complete my studies; all credit goes to my mother. I could survive the toxic atmosphere of my locality only because of my mother's belief. NSD changed my life completely. I applied for National School of Drama to learn the craft of acting. I got through in my second attempt in 2012.The course helped me to learn the subtleties of acting. The exposure was great. After my course, I was lucky enough to crack the audition for main lead part in India's first Broadway style Musical show Zangoora - The Gypsy Prince. Then I got the iconic role of Salim in another Broadway Style Musical Show "Mughal-e-Azam" directed by Feroz Abbas Khan and then finally The Family Man happened.
Now I see myself hustling for good work in future. I wish to continue my journey as an artist till my last breath. I have worked hard to learn the craft and I have always focused on improving myself. I hope that I continue to do so and my work gets recognized by people. I wish to create a niche for myself in the industry. My dream is to do some finest performances for which people will remember me once I'm gone. That's my vision.
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